Climbing: The Epic is a seriously fast bike when pedaling up
the mountain. The lightweight frame and wheels, combined with
a stiff, responsive design, gave our test riders plenty of personal
records on their local climbs. With the Brain setting turned up,
the SID fork was stiff and complemented the lightweight chassis.
A couple of our test riders would have preferred a remote lockout
to have a little more control over the low-speed compression. The
low front end allowed us to keep our heads down and our weight
shifted forward to power up steep sections of trail.
Ride quality: Rough trails and ruts can beat up a rider, especially on a hardtail. The Epic HT has a thinner seat tube and
27.2-millimeter seatpost to allow for more vertical compliance.
This, combined with the thinner seatstays, gave the Epic a very
smooth ride quality that muted minor imperfections in the trail but
still delivered a stiff frame when pedaling hard out of the saddle.
Descending: Hardtails aren’t known for their ability to descend
well, but the Epic HT defies the odds and delivers a balanced and
stable ride, especially at high speeds. The SID fork was active and
didn’t flex under hard braking efforts or on technical terrain. The
geometry gave us a very nimble ride that left us plenty of room to
flick the bike over technical bits or find more creative lines than the
normal beaten path.
TRICKS, TIPS OR UPGRADES?
Our test bike came with a SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain with a
32-tooth front chainring. Serious riders will want to step up to at
least a 34 and possibly a 36. Out of the box the weight of the Epic
HT is impressively light, but riders will be able to save even more
weight and increase the ride quality by upgrading to a carbon fiber
The stock Fast Trak tires were fast and offered minimal rolling
resistance, but were prone to more flats with their lighter casing. We recommend saving these for race day and putting on
something a little heavier and thicker for everyday trail riding and
Let it fly: Eagle has a massive gear range, offering riders
enough room to conquer any type of terrain. The reduced
weight and simplicity of this 1x12 drivetrain is more than
appropriate for modern cross-country riding and racing.